Mon, 25 Jan 2021

Washington finally set to open vs. No. 2 Baylor

Field Level Media
29 Nov 2020, 17:40 GMT+10

The Washington Huskies opened last season with a 67-64 victory against then-No. 16 Baylor in the Armed Forces Classic at Anchorage, Alaska.

This year's opener on Sunday, vs. the same opponent, will be a bit different.

The Huskies, minus two NBA first-round draft picks Isaiah Stewart and JadenMcDaniels, will again open against the Bears, although this time Baylor is ranked No. 2 and the game will be in Las Vegas.

Washington, who won the Pac-12 Conference regular-season title in 2018-19, didn't parlay their victory against Baylor into a winning campaign in 2019-20. They finished 15-17 overall and last in the league at 5-13.

"Last year we had so many new guys in new positions and we had these young superstars (Stewart and McDaniels)," Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. "This year we've got some proven players with a lot of mileage under their belt, and that experience, especially at the guard position, will hopefully pay dividends."

Quade Green is back after missing half of last season due to academic ineligibility. The Huskies are hopeful transfers Erik Stevenson (Wichita State), Cole Bajema (Michigan), J'Raan Brooks (Southern California) and Nate Pryor (junior college) can make an impact.

Nahziah Carter, who averaged 12.2 points last season, was suspended in October for violating the athletic department's code of conduct.

"Obviously, you're talking about a guy who is an all-league-caliber player, fourth-year player. Really started to thrive in moments last year," Hopkins said. "Hopefully he can come back. If not, it would be a huge loss for us."

The Bears, who were originally scheduled to start the season last Wednesday against No. 18 Arizona State and then play No. 3 Villanova or Boston College on Thanksgiving Day at the Empire Classic in Connecticut, had those games wiped out because of coronavirus concerns and instead boarded a flight to Las Vegas on Thursday night.

They opened their season Saturday with a 112-82 victory against Louisiana as MaCio Teague had 21 points, leading five Bears in double-digit scoring. Teague also tied for the team high with seven rebounds.

"It's been extremely chaotic, kind of a day-by-day basis," preseason All-America guard Jared Butler said. "We've just been trying to find games to play."

Bears coach Scott Drew didn't make the trip after testing positive for COVID-19.

While isolated at home, Drew helped set up the game plan to face the Ragin' Cajuns.

"The worst thing in the world you can do is give Scott time and isolate him (where you) can't distract him, and he's got a phone and a computer," said Bears associate coach Jerome Tang, who is filling in for Drew on the bench. "His brain is just going."

The Bears are also without senior forward Tristan Clark, who announced recently he decided to retire.

Clark was leading the nation in field-goal shooting as a sophomore (73.7 percent) when he sustained a serious knee injury. He was limited to 22 games last season and averaged just four points.

"I pushed and challenged myself because I love basketball and I love playing. And I just kept going because I just wanted to keep playing," Clark said. "But it just comes a time where you have to think about the future and just your mental state."

--Field Level Media

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